By Kamal Haynes, BVI News Staff
With a promise of performing effectively, members of the Opposition have given an assurance that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will be utilising its legislative powers to probe government spending from both the present and previous administration.
The PAC is scheduled to have its first session on February 4 — which will come just days before the one-year anniversary of the Fahie administration being elected into government.
“If you look at the powers that the Public Accounts Committee has … we do have the powers to summon persons before the PAC and get the answers that we require to be able to relate to the BVI community, the things that may not be too clear,” said Opposition member Melvin Turnbull while speaking at a recent media conference with other members of the Opposition.
Section 7 in Part 2 of the Virgin Islands Public Finance Management Regulations of 2005 outlines at least one of these powers afforded to the PAC.
It states that “an Accounting Officer shall answer to the Public Accounts Committee of the Legislative Council for how he carries out his duties under the Act when required to do so by that Committee”.
Private citizens to be summoned too
But senior Opposition legislator Julian Fraser said government officials will not be the only persons the PAC will be relying on for information.
He said the PAC will also be calling on private citizens.
“Any private citizen or a company that had business with the government of the Virgin Islands is opened to be summoned before the Public Accounts Committee,” Fraser said.
“They must answer the questions whether or not the matter is in court. We have that power to do those things and answers we must get,” he added.
Robust PAC schedule
Meanwhile, Opposition Leader and Chairman of the PAC Marlon Penn said his committee will be undertaking a robust schedule to thoroughly delve into issues that occurred under the current Virgin Islands Party (VIP) government and the National Democratic Party (NDP) administration for which he was an active member.
“We intend to meet every week to ensure that we go through in detail the audited reports that are laid before the Public Accounts Committee – the ones that had come to the House of Assembly and the ones that are yet to come to the House of Assembly,” Penn stated.
Some of the issues to be investigated
He also listed several issues which are a priority on the agenda of the PAC to be investigated.
“Festival, as I mentioned, is one that is of grave concern to us, $2 million went up in poof in the air in two weeks. We need to give account for that $2 million. The issue with the Premier’s security firm spending $86,000 a month and that went on for 10 months,” Penn said
Other matters the PAC said it intends to probe are the botched $7.2 million BVI Airways deal and the $1 million-plus expenditure for the wall of the Elmore Stoutt High School — both of which happen under the previous NDP administration — as well as the recently executed regularisation initiative that happen under this new VIP administration.
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